By Evelyn Usman
A 29-year-old dismissed Police Constable who was arrested while escorting a tanker carrying 33,000 litres of petroleum products suspected to have been siphoned from illegal refineries in Lagos, recently, made startling revelations on how he had been engaged in illegal oil bunkering for 12 years with his collegues. The suspect, Abdulrasaq Samma, who hails from Karilamido in Taraba State, disclosed that he started by escorting militants in the creeks, while still in service. During such operations which were usually carried out at night, Samma said he and other policemen usually followed militants and illegal bunkerers to oil wells located in creeks in the Niger Delta region where crude oil is drilled.
Aiding and abetting
It was gathered that while the bunkerers would be busy drilling and siphoning petroleum products, the suspect who was attached to the ‘B’ division of the Delta State Police Command and his colleagues, would be watching out for any intruder. He revealed that sometimes, the bunkerers would siphon as much as 66,000 to 99,000 petroleum products, at the end of which, each policeman got N300,000.
Luck, however, ran against him in 2006, after he was caught, alongside four other policemen and consequently dismissed by the command. Rather than turn a new leaf, the suspect still maintained his relationship with his partners in crime. But this time around, he was no longer working with them in the creeks. Rather, he was escorting the refined products which were usually stored in tankers, to several fuel stations within and outside the country.
In addition, he devised another means of beating security checks on the way by using a letter purportedly from the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, DIG, in -charge of Operations, as owner of the petroleum product being conveyed.
However, last Wednesday, Crime Alert gathered that while waiting for his partners in crime to bring their truck filled with the siphoned petroleum products along Apapa- Oshodi expressway, Samma decided to while away time with some sticks of cigarettes. But that was his greatest undoing, as three men around the area complained that smoke from his cigarette was disturbing them. This resulted into an argument which degenerated into a fight that compelled a team of OP MESA men on patrol along that axis to intervene.
On sighting the OP MESA van, eye witnesses said Samma raised the alarm that he was being gang-beaten and at the same time identified himself as a Superintendent of Police, SP. An eye witness who identified himself as Johnson Soyede, alleged that “immediately the OP MESA men heard that, they descended on those fighting with the suspect (Samma). Two of them managed to escape but the third person was arrested and taken to Trinity Police station, alongside the man who claimed to be a policeman.”
How the bubble burst
The burble, however, burst when Samma was unable to convince policemen at the station that he was a cop. At the end, he was discovered to be a fake policeman after all. In an encounter with him, he told Crime Alert : “I am a dismissed policeman. I was dismissed because I was involved in illegal bunkering and refining. We escort militants to refine crude oil from Bonny Island. I work with them both on sea and on land. They would dig a well from where they drilled oil and take to illegal refineries. From there, the crude oil would be refined into fuel, diesel and kerosene. I was paid N300, 00 per trip while I was still in service. At times, I made two trips per day. But, I usually shared the money among some policemen who went with me.
“These illegal bunkerers loaded oil from illegal refineries in Okrika, Rivers State to the North, South, East and Western parts of the country. When I left the creeks, I was paid N63,000 after escorting their trucks to supply products to ready buyers. Nobody disturbed us on the road because we have waybills from different refineries. I also used the letter head of the DIG, Operations, Abuja. What I do is to write, “Please assist, product belongs to DIG OPS, Force headquarters, Abuja. And in the bottom, I would sign and stamp it. I printed the letter head myself. It was to facilitate movements and to avoid being asked unnecessary questions on the road.
Proceeds of the loot
“Out of the proceeds, I bought a land in Asaba, Delta State, where I have started building. I also used part of it to take care of my wife and four children. Sometimes, we would travel to Ghana, Dubai, South Africa and London for vacation. On the day I was arrested, two men poured alcoholic drinks into my eyes while we were fighting. In the process, they snatched my international passport, my identification card and yellow card from me,” he stated.